It’s hard to imagine skiing without a helmet. In addition to being the «the warmest hat» for this kind of sport, a helmet primarily protects you from head injuries and, in some cases, can save your life.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how well you know how to skate since, unfortunately, none of the skiers is safe from being knocked down by another skier. As the experience grows, both the speed of skiing and the difficulty of the slopes increase. At the same time, the risk of injury as a result of even the slightest mistake increases.
For winter sports, special helmets are produced that are designed for use in cold weather. Ski helmets have passed all the necessary tests required by safety standards. They work great in conjunction with ski masks. However, many sports fans are interested in how long do ski helmets last, so it is essential to know the most critical questions in this matter.
What Are Ski Helmets Made From?
Modern helmets have three main components:
- The outer thin, rigid shell is designed to distribute the energy from the impact over the entire area of the helmet or to divert it tangentially. It protects the inner part from penetrating shocks, sharp fragments and helps to maintain its shape. The outer shell can be made of high-quality plastic, carbon, or polycarbonate. Each of these materials, respectively, affects the strength of the helmet and its weight.
- The inner, thick, soft shell is made of shock-absorbing material and protects the head from shock and injury. It is usually made of expanded polystyrene or polypropylene foam.
- The lining of the soft material ensures comfortable contact of the helmet with the skin. It is designed to wick moisture away from its surface and dry as quickly as possible. For greater wearing comfort, the liner may have antibacterial properties. It is almost always made removable for washing.
Should You Replace Your Helmet After An Impact?
A quality helmet is perhaps the most important protection you should buy. Your life depends on its quality and technical condition. Therefore, it is imperative to check it for damage periodically.
Many wonders do helmets expire with time? The answer is yes and no. If the helmet stays unused, then it has no expiration date. Well, within reason. It all depends on how you take care of your helmet and how you take care of it:
- Exposure to ultraviolet light has a detrimental effect on plastics and the composite adhesive that makes up the outer protective layer of the helmet.
- The inner EPS foam will not fade after two years. Still, it can be damaged by solvents and corrosive chemicals such as degreasers that can accidentally get on the helmet.
All helmet manufacturers and their certifying organizations agree that you must immediately replace your helmet after an accident. Even if you did not notice that you hit your head (helmet) during the accident, for the next trip you must replace the helmet. Sometimes helmets do their job so well that you might not even realize you hit your head.
Almost all helmets are designed to absorb one hit, after which they must be replaced. Sometimes, if the impact on the helmet is strong enough, it will crack the foam located under the hard outer shell of the helmet, and you can see the damage. In many cases, however, the impact imperceptibly compresses the inner foam layer. No damage or deformation will be visible, but the helmet’s design is broken and requires replacement.
In addition, as helmets become lighter and more ventilated, less material is used and more easily damaged. Even when you drop the helmet on solid ground it could damage the materials.
You Should Stop Using A Snow Helmet If
Even if you haven’t had any accidents, it might be time to replace your helmet due to normal wear and tear. Ultraviolet radiation over time destroys the polycarbonate shell of the helmet. However, this takes quite a long time.
The surface of a good helmet contains a UV inhibitor used in the material, which inhibits the processes of destruction due to ultraviolet radiation. However, over time, UV radiation can still cause damage. Fading of the shell or cracks around the vents of the helmet indicates such material degradation.
Be sure to check your helmet regularly and look for any signs of wear. Take a close look at the helmet’s outer shell, the inner foam, the attachment system, and the strap and buckle system. If you find one of the following problems, it’s time to replace your helmet:
- The outer polycarbonate shell is cracked or separating from the inner helmet foam.
- The foam on the helmet is dented, compressed, or otherwise damaged.
- The helmet straps are worn out.
- The head or buckle adjustment system is cracked, broken, or no longer working.
- The sizing system is no longer attached to the helmet shell.
How To Maintain Your Ski/Snowboard Helmet
A ski helmet, as well as all items of equipment, must be looked after. The helmet can be washed with warm water and a mild soapy solution. All soft fabric parts should be dried at room temperature. Protect the ski helmet from direct long-term exposure to ultraviolet rays. Store the helmet at a temperature not exceeding + 60 °C in a dry, dark place. It is not recommended leaving it near a heat source such as a battery.
Cleaning Your Ski/Snowboard Helmet
The helmet is part of the equipment of the skier or snowboarder and requires careful maintenance. If you do not follow the rules for the care of the helmet, its defensive performance becomes less effective.
Helmets will always provide you with maximum protection if you attentively follow a few simple rules:
- Do not use detergents or other chemicals to clean your helmet, as they may damage it. It is best to clean the helmet with a sponge, cold water, and mild soap.
- It is dangerous to repaint the helmet: do not use any dyes.
- Do not leave the helmet near objects that generate high temperatures, such as radiators.
- Do not leave the helmet in the sun for a long time, especially in the mountains.
- Do not store the helmet where it can be crushed by the weight of other objects or subject to impact from other things.
According to helmet expiration, it is recommended to replace the old helmet with a new one every three years. Some of its parts wear out over time, and its protective characteristics change accordingly. If you use your helmet more often than usual, you should better change it more often than every three years.
Better To Be Safe, Rather Than Sorry
If you ever wondered do I need a helmet for skiing, the answer is undoubtedly «Yes!». Headbutting can lead to traumatic brain injury. According to the American National Ski Association, the association has recorded about forty deaths on the slope over the past ten years.
Most injuries and deaths on the ski slopes result from a collision of one or more skiers or a collision with a stationary object on the hill (tree, stone). 60% of deaths were caused by head trauma.
To protect yourself from injury and enjoy sports without additional problems, you should carefully monitor your helmet. A helmet costs a lot less than treatment or even disability. That is why the vast majority of professionals always ride in a helmet. The helmet can significantly weaken the force of the blow, protecting the head in case of a fall. It is something without which skiing will never be complete!